WATCH: CNN’s Pamela Brown Confronts San Diego Teacher’s Union President Over Reluctance to Reopen Schools in April
CNN Newsroom anchor Pamela Brown asked pressing questions of the president of the San Diego teacher’s union about their demands for all teachers to be fully vaccinated from Covid-19 before reopening schools this coming April, noting that that was stricter than the current guidance from the CDC.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) “is forking over billions of incentives to encourage schools to reopen, but not everyone is sold,” said Brown, before introducing Kisha Borden, president of the San Diego Education Association.
The San Diego School Board president had set April 12 of this year as a “target date” to reopen schools, Brown said, asking Borden what she thought about that proposal.
Borden replied that her union supported reopening only after far stricter requirements were met, saying they had come to an agreement with the district that “we would be ready to reopen when we had low community case rates, plus the opportunity for all of our educators to receive the vaccine, and that there were onsite safety mitigations in place at all of our school sites,” and “once all of those criteria were in place that teachers would be ready to return.”
“So you think April 12th then is reasonable?” Brown asked.
Borden replied that a number of teachers had received the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses, administered four weeks apart, “so many of our educators will have the opportunity to receive both doses but perhaps not all.”
Brown noted that top U.S. health officials were saying that “the science shows vaccinations are not a requirement for schools to reopen safely — why do you continue to say it needs to happen even when the science shows otherwise?”
Borden responded that Biden had directed states to prioritize educators for the vaccine, which Brown acknowledged was true, “so, if our president is saying vaccinating teachers should be a priority, then why wouldn’t we do that?”
“Well, there’s a difference between priority and mandatory,” Brown interjected. “There’s a difference between saying teachers should be front of the line to get the vaccine, but it’s very different from saying every teacher has to have full immunity before schools can even open. As you know, the CDC has said vaccinations and testing are a secondary layer.”
These various safety mitigations were like layers of Swiss cheese, said Borden, needing to be stacked to provide protection. “I’ve spoken with hundreds of teachers, our members, and they want those protections to be in place and available to protect themselves and to protect their students. The last thing I would want to do as a teacher is to pass this virus on to one of my students or that they carry it home to a parent or a grandparent.”
Brown called the debate “a complex issue,” and asked Borden to respond to criticism from parents who were saying that the unions’ requirements for reopening were “overly stringent” and “hijacking their kids’ education.”
“No one wants to be in the classroom more than teachers. Our educators want what’s best for students but they also want them to be safe,” said Borden, commenting that they did not want to have classes reopen only to have to close again right away.
Brown thanked Borden for sharing her union’s perspective, and added that “the CDC has said that the science shows mitigation efforts aside from vaccines, if you follow those you can reopen the schools safely.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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